Bill Ackman, the activist hedge fund manager who most recently made headlines over his big short position on Herbalife, zeroed in on Procter & Gamble at the Sohn Investment Conference in New York Wednesday.
The CEO of Procter & Gamble (PG) is one busy man, but that doesn't mean he's solely focused on his work at the helm of one of the world's largest corporations.
Bob McDonald, who's led P&G since July 2009, served on the board of 21 different organizations, including Xerox (XRX)as of early 2012. And Ackman thinks that may be more than a few too many.
"We make the conservative assumption that just attending board meetings and not including travel time, this accounts for 25% of his time," Ackman said during his presentation.
A P&G spokesperson disputed Ackman's comments and said that McDonald serves on just seven boards. Only one, Xerox, is a corporate board, he said.
Still Ackman made it clear from those thinly veiled comments that he wants McDonald out. He said he's willing to give McDonald two to three quarters to get the company in better shape. By better shape, he wants to see at least 5% annualized growth and some major cost cutting. In both of those metrics, P&G trails its peers, said Ackman.
Ackman called P&G's board "first class" and said he expects the board to make the right decision.
Ackman holds roughly 1% of the consumer product maker's shares, making him one of P&G's top stakeholders. He's been a vocal critic of the company's management and its financial performance since disclosing his stake last year.
Should McDonald fail to turn things around quickly enough, who does Ackman think should step in? He didn't specify, but said there are several quality internal and external candidates.
Ackman has been known for bringing new leadership into his investments, though not all his moves turn out as planned.
Ackman also stayed silent on his big billion dollar short position in multilevel marketing firm Herbalife (HLF).
The Sohn conference is known to produce wild stock gyrations, as investors rush to follow the bets that major hedge fund managers make for or against stocks. Ackman's talk didn't move P&G's share price much.
But several other stocks were whipsawed.
Corvex Management's Keith Meister told investors to buy wireless data providers Level 3 Communications (LVLT) and TW Telecom (TWTC). He deemed Level 3 to be a long-term consolidator in the industry. TW Telecom, by contrast, could be an acquisition target down the road. Shares of both companies shot up about 7%.
Shares of Yellow Pages company Dex Media (DXM) rallied 30%, after noted short seller and Japan bear Kyle Bass outlined a case for long-term growth as the company moves into digital media.
Clear Channel Outdoor's (CCO) stock gained more than 7% after Mitchell Julis of Canyon Partners gave the billboard firm a thumbs up.
Shares of Herbalife (HLF) bounce back from a sharp drop Monday morning after the New York Post reported that the company is the subject of a federal investigation. Herbalife's stock fell nearly 13% shortly after the open but finished the day up more than 1%.
The investigation was revealed after the Federal Trade Commission disclosed a list of 192 complaints against Herbalife from the past seven years in response to a Freedom of Information Law request MOREHibah Yousuf - Feb 4, 2013 4:01 PM ET
The Dreamliners may be temporarily grounded, but one hedge fund manager is betting that aircraft makers are about to take off.
"The aerospace industry was essentially put on hold during the few years since the financial crisis, but now there is a real need for modern planes," said Dinakar Singh, founder and CEO of New York-based hedge fund TPG-Axon Capital Management, adding that he expects the industry will enjoy strong and MOREHibah Yousuf - Jan 17, 2013 4:26 PM ET
The possibility of a worldwide depression or a market crash doesn't keep Ray Dalio, founder of the world's largest hedge fund, up at night.
The world, especially southern Europe, may be standing on the edge of an abyss, says Bridgewater Associates' Dalio, but he has faith in the power of central bankers around the globe to essentially print money as needed.
"The world has a lot of liquidity," Dalio said Wednesday morning, MOREMaureen Farrell - Sep 12, 2012 2:03 PM ET
Barton Biggs, a former Morgan Stanley global strategist and pioneer of the hedge fund industry, has died.
Morgan Stanley (MS) chief executive James Gorman disclosed Briggs' death Monday in a memo to employees. A spokeswoman for the bank said Briggs died Saturday after a suffering from a blood infection. He was 79.
"Barton left an indelible mark on our business, our culture and our shared notion of leadership at Morgan Stanley," Gorman MOREBen Rooney - Jul 16, 2012 1:11 PM ET
Investors worried about Europe imploding may find solace in two new ETFs that launched Wednesday and offer portfolio protection against so-called black swan events.
Coined by economist and former derivatives trader Nassim Taleb, a black swan event is one that's highly improbable and unforeseen, like the 2008 financial crisis and Japan's 2011 nuclear disaster.
Horizons Universa Canadian Black Swan ETF and the Horizons Universa US Black Swan ETF track the S&P 500 MOREMaureen Farrell - May 30, 2012 1:49 PM ET
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